Ang Pow

By, Sean Ng


“Gong Xi Fa Cai, Hong Pau Na Lai!”

I’m sure this is a familiar phrase to most of you people out there who know what Chinese New Year is all about. Well, Chinese New Year is not only about the Ang Pow/Pau (whatever the spelling) but it is also about family, unity, prosperity, honour, respect and last but not least, food! However, I shall only focus on the Ang Pows this time.

Ang Pows or Red Packets are traditionally given to the younger ones by the older married ones (Yes, including those young married couples, that’s you aunty!) to wish them success and prosperity in life. But how many people look forward to receiving Ang Pows with that thought in mind.

What we all probably have in mind when it comes to Ang Pows is this:  $$$!

Some people get a lot of Ang Pows and some people get very few Ang Pows or none at all. I asked quite a number of my friends how much in total did they get from their parents. Turns out that 50% of them got RM1000 or more (those lucky children…..) and about 30% got between RM100-RM500 and the rest got between RM1-RM50. Personally, I fall in the RM100-RM500 category.

I’m not saying that it is wrong to look forward to the money. I look forward to the money myself! Hehe…. But let’s take a moment here to reflect on the true value of the Ang Pow and what you should or should not do:

1)      Do thank the person for giving you the Ang Pow and say a few well-wishing lines.

My standard one is “Thank you! Gong Hei Fatt Choy, Sun Tai Kin Hong!” Don’t run off like a kid and start bragging to your friend about getting an Ang Pow, and, when you get it don’t just snatch it away, take it properly, smile, say the magic words, and off you go.

2)      Do keep your Ang Pows in a safe place.

You do not want your baby brother to ‘accidentally’ take your Ang Pows, neither do you want an unsuspecting burglar to get to them. Keep it in a hidden place and don’t tell everyone about it. However, placing it somewhere in the toilet might not be a good idea. You do not want to be left penniless during Chinese New Year as it is not a very happy situation to be in.

3)      Don’t open the Ang Pow and show your ‘syok’ or ‘not syok’ face in front of the person.

I have encountered people who do this. Right after receiving the Ang Pow, they open the Ang Pow right in front of the person to check how much there is in it and they obviously aren’t Oscar-winning actors as you can see all the ‘colour’ on their face. Also, don’t comment on the amount in public. “Aiyah… this one 10 ringgit, sap sap sui la….. That day Uncle Lee give us 100 bucks even better” No one wants to know your opinion on the Ang Pow. Freedom of speech does not apply here. Censorship wins.

4)      Don’t judge a person by how much he/she gives you in the Ang Pow.

That person might have worked really hard to earn the money he/she has and they might not have the money yet to go around giving it to people. Be thankful that they made an effort to give you some of their hard earned cash. Even if you think they have the money, you might be wrong. As the cheesy saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover.

5)      Don’t spend your money until the end of Chinese New Year.

You only get it once a year. Keep it for a while and treasure it. Don’t worry, the laptop that you want to buy won’t run away. Most importantly, DON’T GAMBLE YOUR ANG POW MONEY AWAY LAH! I know of some people who went for a party and used the Ang Pow money that they have received to play Blackjack. Not only is it a very impolite thing to do, but, you might lose the only Ang Pow money that you might get and become poor.

6)      Don’t go and brag to your friends about how much you got.

Remember, your friend might not be as lucky as you. He might not get as much as you did. So don’t go around telling others what you got. I must confess that I did this once I feel quite guilty about it so don’t be a bad person like me. You also do not want to be attracting burglars to your house.  For all that you know, your friend might overtake you next year. 😉

Well, that’s all the advice I have for you. So take care and happy Ang Pow collecting!

P.S. I am sorry for having more don’ts than do’s. Negativity level is increasing due to the lack of food.




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